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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

February-16-12

Representative Issa Bars Witness from Testifying at Congressional Hearing

Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, each issued letters to Representative Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, following his refusal to allow a minority witness to testify at a Congressional hearing: "Lines Crossed: Separation of Church and State. Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Conscience?" Ranking Member Cummings wanted to allow Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown Law School student, to testify at the hearing regarding the Obama Administration's recent ruling on contraception coverage under the preventive care package of the Affordable Care Act; however Representative Issa refused the request, stating that the hearing "is not about reproductive rights and contraception."

Representative Maloney criticized Issa's decision in her letter: "What I want to know is, where are the women? I look at this panel, and I don't see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning...Of course this hearing is about rights-contraception and birth control. It's about the fact that women want to have access to basic health services [and] family planning through their insurance plan."

Representative Cummings also stated, "Rather than inviting witnesses on both sides of this issue to engage in a reasoned and balanced discussion, you have constructed one of the most one-sided hearings I have ever seen, stacking it only with witnesses who agree with your position. Earlier this week, you informed Committee Members that you had invited nine witnesses, including officials from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and other religious entities that oppose the accommodation announced last week by the Administration to allow women employees of religiously-affiliated organizations such as hospitals and universities to obtain coverage for contraceptive services through their insurance companies. You did not invite officials from the Catholic Health Association, Catholic Charities USA, Catholics United or a host of other Catholic groups that praised the White House."

Media Resources: Statement of Carolyn Maloney 2/16/12; ABC 2/16/12; Statement of Elijah Cummings 2/15/12


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